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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Inspiration Manifestation”
In this episode, Spike found himself in a bad spot. After inadvertently giving Rarity a book that gave her incredible power but also slowly began to corrupt her, and being faced with the disastrous consequences of this mistake, he found himself in a position where he needed to put his foot down and tell her to stop what she was doing. Unfortunately, fearful of getting her angry and breaking off her friendship with him, Spike instead continued to give approval to Rarity as her actions grew worse and impacted more ponies. It was only when things got to a disastrous breaking point that he was finally able to tell her what she needed to hear.
This episode illustrates a good point: if we tell someone something that they need to do or not do, even if we love them and even if it’s something they need to hear for their own well-being, the danger exists they will not accept what is said kindly but react with anger, hostility, and possibly even a breach of relationship. And out of all the messages that the show has had, this one perhaps relates the most to Christians.
We all have an important, life-or-death message to share that we were commissioned to give: about how all individuals are condemned to die and spend eternity in Hell for their sins unless they accept the free gift of salvation presented in the form of the sacrifice of Lord Jesus Christ. If we claim to be Christians, we must believe in this, and also believe that it applies to all people; Christian or not. We also believe, and know possibly from personal experience, that this message is not easily received and often meets with a negative response.
Moreover, far from being promised success in evangelism, Jesus instead promised that few would accept it and that the majority would be hostile, opposed, and possibly even murderous toward those who spread the message…even going so far as to tear families apart over it (Matthew 10:34-36; Matthew 24:9-14).Yet we also know that the world is doomed without this message. Hence, the command of the Great Commission is clear and this is supposed to be both the Christian duty and burden.
Even if individuals are opposed or hostile to the message, it must be given because it’s so important. I’ve heard a number of sermons on this, but one of the ones that sticks with me the most was when the one giving the sermon posed a question. “If you saw someone unknowingly about to walk over a cliff, and you knew they would die, wouldn’t it be your responsibility to shout out to them a warning? Wouldn’t you do it if you knew they were going to die otherwise? Wouldn’t it be the best thing you could do for them?” Just like in this episode, Spike wasn’t helping himself or Rarity by being silent. Even if she wouldn’t like what she heard, she had to hear it both for her own sake as well as those being impacted by her power.
Yet to me there’s a bit more to all of it than that, and I imagine to most Christians there is.
If the most important thing we can do is get the Gospel message out and that was the end of it, then we all might as well become those preachers on college campus who get out a soapbox and chant “hellfire and damnation” on every student who passes by. To me, those sort of individuals might mean well, but I’m wondering if they’re being caught up by an Old Testament passage that we often apply to the work of sharing the Gospel: “If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.” (Ezekiel 3:18). Although God was talking to the prophet Ezekiel at the time, this passage and many others like it in the Old Testament serve as a warning to the “saved” about the need to not keep silent. However, if one focuses only on this passage and ones like it, the work of sharing the Gospel can quickly stop being about helping others “have life and have it more abundantly” and more about what’s in it for ourselves; making sure to protect our own interests by keeping tally of how many people we “preach at” rather than “preach to”. There’s a chance that many “hellfire and damnation” preachers reach individuals or, at the bare minimum, inspire other Christians to share the Gospel themselves in their own way…but I tend to think it’s either not terribly effective or drums up more opposition to the Gospel in the long run.
Even if a message is something that an individual will be opposed to or hostile against, there is a right way and a wrong way to say it. For an example, look no further than politics. Being a Christian, I’m pro-life. If I go up to a bunch of pro-choice advocates and start raging on them all for being “baby murderers” and “whores”, odds are I’m only going to make them more solidly pro-choice than before, more defensive of their position, and likely hostile to me personally if not Christianity as a whole. On the other hand, if I approach more quietly, speak from a perspective of common ground, explain (and connect) to them that we both share a value for innocent life, say how my own belief system believes that there is no such thing as a “worthless person” or a “human mistake”, and that’s why I cannot be pro-choice…they’re more likely to patiently listen to me.
And really that’s the key to all persuasive speaking. People have the mistaken idea that they need to destroy their opponents and aggressively take their ideas prisoner to their cause in a speech or argument. That sort of thing only exists in fiction or, possibly, if you happen to be the right person called by God in the right place at the right time with the right people having their hearts open right at that moment. The real goal when you know someone is going to be innately opposed or hostile to you is to get them just to listen to you. Get them to pay attention and hear what you have to say without automatically triggering something to shut their ears off and dismiss you outright. Because if you can get an individual just to consider an idea, to let it sink in and lodge there, then your words can continue to have an impact even after you’re done talking.
While there are a number of testimonies of people having a divine encounter and turning around right on the spot at one special message or sermon, there are also a lot of testimonies about individuals who simply heard the Gospel message once and thought nothing of it, but some time down the road remembered what they had heard and then acted on it. In both cases, the result was still an individual coming to Christ.
In conclusion, indeed witness and share the Gospel with others in your words and actions. Just keep in mind the overall goal is to see to the well-being of others and inscribe the Gospel on their hearts; not to make yourself feel more comfortable for “blasting the message at a multitude of sinners”.
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you again for the amazing gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, and His Sacrifice to absolve the world of sin and to grant us eternal life and fellowship with you. As Lord Jesus commanded us, please grant me the strength and determination to share the Gospel everywhere that I go in my life. Grant me also the same desire that you have: to form relationships with people and build them up into ‘having life, and having it more abundantly’. Please let me always act not for my own sake but out of love and compassion for others. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”